Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Guest Author: Irene McDermott and The Internet Book of Life

Today's guest author is all about computers--and libraries. Made for each other! Please welcome guest author Irene McDermott.

In the Old Testament of the Bible, the “Book of Life” contains the name of righteous souls. The Internet Book of Life: Use the Web to Grow Richer, Smarter, Healthier, and Happier, is my new book. This book of life lists the names of righteous web resources: reliable, useful sites on a variety of subjects designed to help families in all aspects of daily life.

I am a librarian at the Crowell Public Library in San Marino. People often ask me if the internet will put libraries out of business. When people think of libraries, they think of books. Yet, since the web came on the scene in about 1995, library use has increased by 50%. Many come for the computers and then pick up a best seller on the way out.

So, the internet has been nothing but good for libraries. I know that I owe my career to it. I studied for my master’s degree just as the graphical web emerged, from 1993 to 1995. At an internship at the Getty Institute for the Arts I learned about the web and taught it to the librarians there. The skills that I learned that summer, playing with the baby web, landed me a “cybrarian” gig at the USC, and later, my current job where I not only staff the reference desk but take care of the computers, too.

When my husband became ill with colon cancer in 1998, I used the web to find an experimental treatment that saved his life. Unfortunately, even the latest medical research could not save him from the glioma that took him from us in 2008. Still, we were active partners in the treatments that prolonged and enhanced the quality of his life thanks to timely information that I found on the internet.

A couple of years later, after I felt sufficiently recovered, I turned to an online dating site to find new love, a divorced dad who healed my broken heart.

As a mom, I find the web essential for managing my household. I use it for shopping, recipes, making travel plans, online banking, and even learning how to make repairs around the house. My son has become a search master, using it for school.

In 2002, I spoke to the Library of Congress about reference resources available to librarians on the web. My sister, who accompanied me, insisted that I share these helpful sites with the world. The Internet Book of Life is the result. I hope that the sites and the stories in my book will help families everywhere to save money and live happily.

Keep current with websites from the book on my blog:


dive said...

How refreshing to see the internet used in such a positive and life-affirming manner. A wonderful post, Irene.
You are right of course about the internet and libraries; years ago I only ever used the reference section in my local library, but now I go there a couple of times a week to print off documents on their computers (so much cheaper and more sociable than having a printer at home) and invariably end up staying for coffee, chatting with friends and coming away with books and information I never knew I wanted when I went in there.

Petrea Burchard said...

Me too, Dive. I can look up books on my local library's database on my computer at home, reserve them, even have them moved from one library in the system to another that's more convenient for me, then go check them out.

I also think our main library was smart to set up a coffee shop and allow patrons to bring their coffee in to one of the large rooms there. Coffee is, for some strange reason, a very big deal.

It is a positive post! Glad to have you, Irene.

Speedway said...

Many summers ago, I went to my library and found the librarians virtually alone, save for a man in the corner making drawings and notes in very small writing on legal paper. It scared me.

A few weeks ago, on a similarly hot day, I found the library chock full of people, all of them at computer terminals or waiting their turn -- reading.

Petrea Burchard said...

Pasadena's main library is always packed, too, Speedway. Not always in the smaller branches, but I kind of like them that way! The Crowell, the times I've been there, is a busy place as well.

Steven said...

What a great concept for a book Irene. I hope it is a huge success.

Petrea Burchard said...

John and I have a phrase we use when we don't know the answer to a question: "I don't know, but I know where to look." The internet, or more specifically, Google.

Google, however, tailors searches to what it thinks I want. I'd like to find search engines that don't do that.

Anonymous said...

Best of luck with the book, Irene!

Bellis said...

Looks like a great book. If only we could prod our fingers at the interesting web site URLs and be taken right there! Can't even do that on a Kindle, alas. Not sure about the iPad.

Some recent research found that people are not remembering what they look up. Instead, they focus on remembering where, on Google, that information is stored. I find myself doing that a lot.

Pasadena Adjacent said...

Hey Irene

Had to smile when I opened up this page. I can attest to your skills. If I recall, it was you who tracked down a certain obscure comedian in Las Cruses NM for a certain artist which led to a certain 24 hour bus ride (to and fro) that ended up supplying the material for a two man gallery show and a spot at an upcoming MOCA show. Vic adores you.

pasadenapio said...

We see this in the Pasadena Public Library system as well -- people working on laptops for the free wifi, public computers constantly in use and computer classes very well-attended. And yet people are still lined up at the circulation desk and the do-it-yourself book checkout stations.

Book Dragon said...

added to my TBR list but I'm sure you knew I'd do that ;-)

I've been saying for years, and it only got worse when my Library Tech teacher said it too....You don't need to know everything but you need to know where to find it....

Petrea Burchard said...

Bellis, J. says whether or not links in downloaded books work on the iPad depends on what kind of file it is. I hope I translated that right. Bet you can get Irene's book as an ebook, and ebooks can be downloaded to regular computers, not just e-readers.

As for not remembering what I look up, I've always been that way. That's what lists are for.

Oh, PA, I love that. I hope Irene checks in and sees it!

Book Dragon, you astound me. You must be an incredibly fast reader--insatiable, too.

Ms M said...

I enjoyed your post, Irene! The library here in Boise is very well used and they have been putting a few branch libraries in strip malls. Best of luck on your book!

Petrea Burchard said...

Branch libraries in strip malls. Cool idea, Ms. M. I've been reading up on the publishing business and there seems to be a lot of fear that books are dying, especially with the popularity of e-readers. But I don't see it that way. Books are just changing form. Just as TV didn't kill movies or radio, I think we're just getting another form of delivery and what's really happening is that books are expanding.

Irene E. McDermott said...

Wow! Such sweet thoughts. I appreciate all the support that the book is getting.

All are invited to the book signing at Crowell Public Library on September 6 at 7 p.m.

Crowell Public Library
1890 Huntington Dr.
San Marino, CA 91108
626 300-0777

Petrea Burchard said...

Thanks, Irene. It's been fun having you and good luck with the book signing!